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Activision Blizzard employees reject the company’s choice of law firm

Activision Blizzard employees have sent a joint statement to CEO Bobby Kotick and his executive leadership team, criticising the company for choosing to hire law firm WilmerHale to review the company’s practices.

Activision Blizzard is currently being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, who accuse the company of having a ‘frat boy culture’  that has contributed to years of sexual harassment and unequal pay for women at the company.

In a letter shared with IGN, the group identified themselves as the ABK Alliance, and said that Kotick’s recent actions have failed to address their demands, which are as follows:

  1. The end of forced arbitration for all employees
  2. Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies
  3. The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality
  4. Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes.

The group comes from across Activision Blizzard’s studios, including the likes of Activision, Beenox, Blizzard Entertainment, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software and Vicarious Visions.

WilmerHale was appointed to review the company’s policies and procedures, but the ABK Alliance objects to this for a number of reasons. The group claims that WilmerHale has a conflict of interest, due to its “pre-existing relationships with Activision Blizzard and its executives.”

Additionally, the law firm has also discouraged workers from joining unions, and the group alleges that WilmerHale’s leader Stephanie Avakian has a history of “protecting the wealthy and powerful.”

“While we commend the idea of hiring a third-party firm to perform an internal review, The ABK Workers Alliance cannot support the choice of WilmerHale as an impartial reviewer,” reads the letter.

“In Stephanie’s speech highlighting her successes with the SEC, all of her significant examples included achievements in favor of investors, retail clients, and customers, but does not once mention employees or laborers. We need legal representation that centers on the concerns of our current employees, rather than investors.”

The letter noted that while Activision Blizzard has structural problems that only the senior leadership can address, steps were being taken to introduce a number of employee-driven initiatives:

“● Worker-to-Worker Mentorship: We are building a mentorship program where workers can seek career advice, support, and sponsorship from a network of colleagues in a safe external channel outside company communication networks.

● Open Listening Sessions: We will host listening sessions that will be recorded and disseminated across the organization to facilitate ongoing conversation, education, and emotional support for employees.

● Community Meetings: We will facilitate monthly employee meetings, in a secure external channel, to discuss our concerns, desires, and progress toward achieving our goals. All current ABK employees are welcome to participate in these conversations.

“As these actions show, we love our studios and care deeply for our colleagues. We share your expressed unwavering commitment to improving our company together.

“We are doing what we can, and we call on you to do what we cannot.”

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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